Original Research

Contrastive analysis of word-formation strategies in the translated South African Constitution

Respect Mlambo, Muzi Matfunjwa, Nomsa J. Skosana
Literator | Vol 43, No 1 | a1861 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v43i1.1861 | © 2022 Respect Mlambo, Muzi Matfunjwa, Nomsa Skosana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2021 | Published: 29 November 2022

About the author(s)

Respect Mlambo, South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Muzi Matfunjwa, South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Nomsa J. Skosana, South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), North-West University, Potchefstroom


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Abstract

When translating texts into a language that lacks relevant terminology, translation equivalence is difficult to achieve, and the accuracy, accessibility and effectiveness of communication of the translated texts may be compromised. This article investigated various approaches to the translation of terminology when no direct translation equivalents were available in the target languages. The researchers performed a comparative analysis of strategies applied in the translation of the South African Constitution from English into Xitsonga, Siswati and isiNdebele. Firstly, Voyant tools were used to identify terms in the English version. Secondly, a multilingual concordancer (ParaConc) was employed to extract translation equivalence. ParaConc allows for contrastive studies on aligned corpora. The strategies that were found were borrowing, paraphrasing, derivation and compounding. Paraphrasing, derivation and compounding are productive strategies, because equivalents are formed using the already existing words in the languages which native speakers clearly understand. The use of borrowing revealed a critical need for terminology development work in these languages to avoid transliterating terms from foreign languages in which the meaning is not directly clear to the native speakers. This article also demonstrated the usefulness of computational approaches in identifying terminology and translation techniques in the context of South Africa’s official languages.

Contribution: The article demonstrates word-formation strategies that were used in the translated South African constitution from English into Xitsonga, Siswati and isiNdebele when no translation equivalents of terminology are available in these target languages.


Keywords

translation; terminology; word-formation strategies; indigenous languages; Voyant tools; ParaConc

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